David Spanbauer, Part Two: Pure Evil

At the end of part one, Spanbauer is sent to prison for a total of 80 years, beginning May 1960. Pursuant to the Wisconsin ‘Sex Deviate Law,’ Wis.Stats.Ann. 959.15 (1958 & Supp.1966), the court committed Spanbauer to the Department of Public Welfare for a pre-sentence social, physical and mental examination with respect to the sex crimes. Two months later, the Department of Welfare reported that Spanbauer was ‘very disturbed,’ ‘extremely dangerous’ and a ‘fit subject for commitment under the Sex Deviate Law.’ Spanbauer was committed to an indeterminate term under the Sex Deviate Law, to run concurrently with the 80-year sentence on the other counts.

Applied for executive clemency May 8, 1963, three years after his sentencing. This was denied.

He appealed, arguing that he was not represented by an attorney at trial and did not know he had that right. Spanbauer’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus to the Wisconsin Supreme Court was denied without opinion on September 11, 1964. Following a habeas corpus hearing, the federal district court found that there had been explained to Spanbauer the detailed procedures relating to appointment of counsel and the fact that counsel would be appointed for him if he were indigent. Judge Kenneth Grubb decided against Spanbauer around September 1965.

He was released in 1972 on Huber law privileges. On August 16, 1972, Spanbauer is arrested in Dane County for the abduction and rape of a 17-year old hitchhiker that occurred five days earlier. The girl was held at knifepoint in Token Creek Park.

In May 1973, Spanbauer is found guilty and in July was sentenced to a revocation of his parole, thereby sending him back to prison on his original charge, where he had 60 years remaining. He also receives a new sentence of 12 years in prison on the new charges, but the judge allows the sentence to be served concurrent to his Brown County sentence, basically meaning no additional time. Spanbauer had requested that he be sent to the state hospital to receive mental health treatment, but Judge Richard W. Bardwell rejected that. Spanbauer explained that in prison, “I gained insight into my problems but it did not give me the controls I need over my behavior.” Prosecutor John Burr had pushed for the maximum – 50 years – but was shot down by Bardwell.

Bardwell said the incident was “a rather mild rape.” Further, “He picked up a hitchhiker. The girl was in effect asking for it. They are tempting fate when they do it. You can’t protect them 24 hours a day.”

He is released in 1991.

August 23, 1992: 10-year-old Ronelle Eichstedt disappears while riding her bicycle in rural Fond du Lac County. On September 30, Eichstedt’s body is discovered in a farm field in Iowa County in southwestern Wisconsin.

Nothing in 1993?

July 3, 1994: A 24-year-old Illinois woman is the target of an attempted abduction by Spanbauer near Hartman Creek State Park in Waupaca County. She was grabbed while riding her bike but managed to escape. That same day, Spanbauer burglarizes an Appleton residence.

July 9, 1994: 21-year-old Trudi Jeschke is shot to death in a northside Appleton home after apparently surprising a burglar. She was housesitting. Spanbauer found her in a bedroom after expecting the home to be empty.

September 5, 1994: 12-year-old Cora Jones disappears in Waupaca County. On September 10, two hunters discover Jones’ body in Langlade County. In both the Eichstedt and Jones cases, Spanbauer grabbed the girls while they were riding bikes, molested them and dumped their bodies in remote areas.

October 13, 1994: Spanbauer burglarizes an Appleton residence.

October 20, 1994: A 15-year-old girl is sexually assaulted in her Appleton home.

November 5, 1994: A 31-year-old woman is sexually assaulted in her Appleton home.

November 14, 1994: Spanbauer is arrested in Combined Locks after attempting to break into a residence. Spanbauer was tackled by homeowner Gerald Argall after fleeing on foot from behind his house. The next day, Spanbauer confesses to the attempted abduction near Hartman Creek. A few more days later, Spanbauer confesses to the Eichstedt, Jeschke and Jones murders and the sexual assaults in Appleton.

Spanbauer ultimately entered guilty pleas to 18 felonies from five counties on December 8. Judge James Bayorgeon sentenced Spanbauer December 20, 1994 to three consecutive life terms plus 403 years.

July 2002: Serial killer David Spanbauer died at Dodge Correctional Institution in Wisconsin from apparent natural causes at age 61. “Considering the tragedies that he’s caused for numerous families around the state, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is shedding a tear over this death,” said District Attorney Vince Biskupic.

“At least my tax money is no longer going to keep him alive,” said Rick Jones, of rural Waupaca, the father of Spanbauer’s last victim. “I always look at my check stub at my taxes and I always knew that I was paying for health care for the guy who killed my daughter. There will be a party tonight.”

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